19 Oct 2011
The latest annual list of 'up and coming' cleantech ventures features some familiar names, some new faces and one notable absentee.
The third annual “Cleantech 100”, a list of innovative early-stage clean technology companies produced by the Cleantech Group, features at least 20 photonics-related ventures, mostly in the fields of solid-state lighting and solar power.
Whittled down from more than 6600 nominations, the 2011 list features some familiar names from previous years – among them the organic photovoltaics specialist Heliatek and the thin-film CIGS solar cell developer MiaSolé, as well as the LED chip manufacturers Lattice Power and Bridgelux.
Since being included in last year’s list, China-based Lattice Power, which produces GaN-based white LEDs on silicon wafers, has raised more than $55 million in new financing to enable a huge increase in manufacturing capacity. At the time, Lattice Power said that it would increase annual capacity to a staggering 24 billion chips as it targeted both the display backlighting and general lighting sectors.
Other LED-related companies on the 2011 Cleantech 100 list for another year include US-based Digital Lumens, which develops intelligent solid-state lighting systems for commercial and industrial buildings; Lemnis Lighting from The Netherlands, which makes LED-based replacement bulbs; and ShineOn, another Chinese LED manufacturer.
In the solar sector, 1366 Technologies, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) spin-out that has developed a method for rapid, low-energy fabrication of silicon wafers for photovoltaics, makes the list for the first time this year. The US Department of Energy recently agreed a $150 million loan guarantee to back further commercial development of the 1366 process.
Other solar companies selected include Germany-based Soltecture (previously known as Sulfurcell), another maker of thin-film CIGS modules, and the high-efficiency silicon cell and module manufacturer Suniva, which is based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Also included on the list this year for the first time is Barefoot Power, an Australian company that provides low-cost alternatives for lighting in communities that lack access to power and rely on dangerous kerosene lamps. Backed partly through the European Union, Barefoot also sells solar power products.
According to Cleantech Group, the most prolific venture investors in the companies in this year’s “100” were Kleiner Perkins, with 14 investments represented, and VantagePoint Capital Partners, with 12. But the analyst company says that large corporations are increasingly making similar investments in cleantech. It lists General Electric as the most prolific, having invested in 13 of the ventures selected. Siemens and Google each has five investments in the Cleantech 100.
The list of past alumni from the Cleantech 100 list makes for interesting reading, however. Those on the first list, from 2009, included UK-based Quantasol, which was acquired by JDSU earlier this year but at a loss for its investors, as well as the now-infamous CIGS solar specialist Solyndra – which filed for bankruptcy protection last month.